by Chris Scott
reviewed on X360
Blood and Gore
There is nothing quite like the feeling of blowing someone’s torso off with a shotgun and then watching the legs spin. Regardless of whether you find it repulsive or hysterically funny there is something to be said about Soldier of Fortune’s over the top gore. Originally released in 2000, Raven Software’s Soldier of Fortune became the hot topic controversial game. Fans of the game saluted it for its insane amounts of gore while protesters hailed it as the downfall of man. Somewhere along the line a franchise was born.
That series has been in stasis for the last five years as Raven has moved on to developing bigger and better things. Activision though, in a fit of nostalgia, decided to dust off the property and has handed the reigns to Activision Value developer Cauldron. Aside from the excessive amounts of gore Soldier of Fortune: Payback resembles its older iterations in very little. In Cauldron’s defense they at least got that bit right.
Playing through the campaign you will be knocking limbs off left and right. You will be dismembering so many terrorists that there is actually an achievement for it. The flying limbs and twitching remains leave you with a sadistic smile on your face more than once.
However, once you get past the gore, things go south real quick. The first thing fans of the series will notice is that the hero from the first two games is nowhere to be seen. Payback has a brand new mercenary named Mason. Mason works for The Shop, a mercenary organization that takes on jobs that normal military means can’t handle. You will be thrust right into the action as you are assigned a rescue mission by your handler. By the end of the first level things will have gone horribly wrong, thus pushing into motion a series of increasingly absurd events. The story plays out like a straight-to-video action thriller from the 80s and ends so abruptly that you would swear the game is missing some levels.
The abrupt ending isn’t the only thing making you think the game was rushed out the door. Short draw distances, enemies spawning behind you after you have cleared the area, laughably bad AI programming and a host of other issues all plague Soldier of Fortune: Payback and may leave you wondering if the developers had a game testing staff at all. You can get past the bad AI, as it just looks stupid, but enemies spawning behind you will result in many cheap deaths and that is inexcusable. Another major problem has to do with item interaction. Unless you have your targeting reticule looking directly at the item you want to interact with you can find yourself stuck in a section of the game with no means to progress.
Overall, the single player experience is pretty standard run and gun fair. You start out at point A and after doing some menial tasks you end up at point B where you will face off against a 'boss'. The boss battles are rather lame and basically require you to stay in cover and hit the boss about 300 times before they die. In an era of gaming where realism is taking over, it is kind of a shame that Soldier of Fortune: Payback resorts to game mechanics that are tired and stale. On the 'Hard' difficulty you will need to rein yourself in somewhat, hiding behind walls and aiming more carefully to take out your targets.
No Pros and Cons at this time